It’s all about the Benjamins.
With the Minnesota Timberwolves interviewing a roughly everyone west of the Misissippi River for their open coaching position — Don Nelson, Larry Brown, Rick Adelman, Terry Porter, Bernie Bickerstaff, Mike Woodson — it is hard to get exactly what they are looking for. Sure, GM David Kahn said he wanted someone with “uptempo DNA” but not everyone on that list fits that criteria.
Over at the Star Tribune, beat writer Jerry Zgoda suggests who gets the job may come down to how much the Bucks are willing to pay.
If they’re willing to pay $4-5 million a year, the pick clearly seems to be former Houston coach Rick Adelman, a candidate who meets all of Kahn’s criteria for style of play, winning track record and the unspoken but important Kevin Love Factor.
If their ceiling is $3 million — plus bonuses — it’s Don Nelson. Working down from there, in the $2 million range and in descending order, your picks are Mike Woodson, Bernie Bickerstaff (and Son) and then Terry Porter.
The Wolves just had to pay (or are paying) the remaining two years and $4 million owed Kurt Rambis, which may impact their decision. As Zgoda noted, Adelman interviewed for this job over the phone, not flying out to Minnesota, which is not exactly a sign everyone is serious about that happening.
I’d tell you who I think the frontrunner is if I had any clue, but I’m not about to try and guess what Kahn’s next move will be, save that a couple more first-round interviews are expected.
No real shock here, this was expected, but we pass along the news anyway.
Bernie Bickerstaff will be formally interviewing for the Minnesota Timberwolves vacant head coaching job on Friday, according to the Star Tribune.
Bickerstaff, who is currently an assistant in Portland, has spent 13 seasons as head coach in the NBA with stops in Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte. He has a career 415-517 record.
Bickerstaff’s son J.B. had been on the Timberwolves staff last season — one of the reasons Bernie was first brought in according to reports, the father would take the job while grooming his son to take over. But J.B. bolted and joined Kevin McHale’s staff in Houston.
Already Terry Porter and Mike Woodson have interviewed for the job, and Don Nelson has expressed interest and had phone conversations with team GM David Kahn.
It was bound to happen — David Stern is a stickler for his rules.
One of his rules was team officials cannot even talk about players during the lockout. (Go look at NBA.com and try to find a picture of a current player.) Now two teams have gotten their wrist slapped for this, tweeted Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The NBA’s fined two undisclosed teams for speaking on players in media during lockout, league source says. Kahn’s a good bet as one of them.
That would be Timberwolves GM David Kahn, who in his press conference about finally getting around to firing coach Kurt Rambis he mentioned both Ricky Rubio and Brad Miller.
As for the other, smart money is on Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who as we told you before mentioned several Blazers players by name while doing a radio interview in Portland. The best part of the interview is the way he cuts and runs at the end, when pretty clearly a team PR guy was telling him to shut up.
Frankly, the rule is pretty silly. But if the rule is there so that Stern can provide a united front with himself as the only mouthpiece for the league, then he cannot let these infractions slide by. While the league has threatened a $1 million fine for violations, it doesn’t seem likely that these harmless ones will generate that severe a response. But there will be fines.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a fast start with interviews — Terry Porter and Mike Woodson have sat down with Wolves management, Don Nelson has spoke to them on the phone and likely will get an interview.
But don’t count out Bernie Bickerstaff, tweets beat writer Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
Expect Timberwolves still to interview Portland assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, even though his son J.B. has joined Kevin McHale in Houston
The younger Bickerstaff had been a Wolves assistant and the plan had been to bring in 67-year-old Bernie to both coach for a couple years and groom his son to take over the big chair after him. Then J.B. bolted to Houston.
The age thing does not seem to concern the Wolves too much, Nelson is 71 and in the running.
Expect the Wolves to take their time with this decision — because of the lockout there is only so much the coach can do right now anyway. A staff can be assembled and plans made, but since players cannot be contacted there are limits on how much work can get done.
For the past few weeks, once the ownership change went through and John Kuester was let go, it was thought Mike Woodson was he frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons. But Celtics assistant (and former Nets head coach) Lawrence Frank reportedly impressed owner Tom Gores in the interview. The Pistons have been split, and stalled.
So Woodson had another interview Monday — with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Detroit News had the report.
Timberwolves GM David Kahn said he wanted an up-tempo coach to take over his team, which makes this interview puzzling. When helping rebuild Atlanta, Woodson’s teams never finished higher than 13th in the NBA in pace, and his best teams were close to the slowest teams in the league. Woodson is a defense first guy — something the Wolves could use — who wants to grind out games. Not really a fit with Minnesota’s personnel (especially Ricky Rubio) or what Kahn said he wanted.
It is possible Woodson (or his agent) was able to get the interview jus to put some pressure on Detroit.
Minnesota has also interviewed former NBA head coach Terry Porter (whose two teams in Milwaukee did not play at a terribly fast tempo, but when he took over for Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix his Suns did run a lot).
Then there is Don Nelson, who has talked with Kahn on the phone and is interested. Nelson’s teams run, but they don’t play much defense and Nelson has his own views on who should and should not get minutes (just ask Anthony Randolph). Nelson coaching the Wolves would be interesting, and they would win more, but the off-the-court train wreck that would inevitably happen might be the more interesting part of that pairing.
But Nelson still seems a better fit or what Kahn wants than Woodson.